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  • Writer's pictureTina

Foodie Friday: BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese

With the start of the school year just around the corner, I am trying out new recipes that I consider lunch box friendly. My bean is a somewhat picky eater. Not only is she reluctant to try new foods, she tires of foods she likes rather quickly. Also, she is not a sandwich kind of kid. Packing her a PB&J is not an option. Luckily, she has a creative mom who loves her…insert a wink here.

I try to mix it up and rotate through lunches that I feel are filling, nutritious, and somewhat healthy. The healthy part is where I struggle because my child would sustain herself on Little Debbie Swiss Rolls if permitted. She does not like veggies or fruit unless it's Cotton Candy grapes, apples, or tangelos. Finding things that hold up well in her lunch box and that she will eat is often a struggle.

When we went to Noodles & Co., The Bean ordered BBQ chicken mac and cheese, which she loved. She ate the entire bowl; I think she would have had seconds if it had been available. When I saw this, I thought I could pack that in her lunch when school started. I asked her thoughts on the idea, and she concurred. That night, I tried a BBQ chicken mac and cheese recipe, and it was a hit with everyone. So, today I will share that recipe with you.


· 16 oz Pulled BBQ Chicken*

· 8 oz Elbow Macaroni (I used Glutton Free)

· 1 C Pasta Water

· 1 C Half and Half

· 10 oz Shredded Cheese Blend, divided (I used Monterey Jack and Cheddar)


1. Preheat an oven to 400ºF and bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

2. Cook the pasta for 8-9 minutes until tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Set aside.

3. Set the burner to its lowest setting and add the drained pasta back to the pot with the cup of pasta water and milk. Stir to incorporate fully.

4. Gradually fold in 8 oz of shredded cheese, 1-2 oz at a time, until you have a smooth sauce. (Don't worry if the sauce is slightly runny, it will thicken in the oven once the chicken is added.) Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish or oven-safe skillet and stir in the pulled chicken. Top with 2 oz of shredded cheese and drizzle with BBQ sauce (optional). Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

I paired this with a spinach salad, and it was a filling, easy, and delicious meal. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. I believe this will pack well in The Bean's lunch box in a pre-warmed thermos. Stay safe, smart, try new foods, be creative, and keep washing your hands on this warm summer day.

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